The phasing out and shutting down of the nuclear power industry has become a trend in many countries. This decision seems to be based on irrational fears as environmental and health damage caused by nuclear accidents and nuclear waste is minor compared to the harm caused by fossil fuels. Moreover we need the zero-carbon energy source to cope with climate change as clean technologies and renewables are not efficient enough to meet the intense energy demand.
On average agriculture utilizes 70 per cent of the world’s available fresh water. About 40 per cent of water used in irrigation is wasted through unsustainable practices. This mismanagement – but also an increasing world population, improved affluence and the effects of climate change – strain water resources. Resource efficient methods and technology will allow farmers to grow more food with less water while protecting biodiversity. A few of them are being discussed.
The EU ETS wants to stimulate the development of low-emission energy technologies. The logic behind it is that an auction of a fixed supply of emission allowances – determined by an ambition level – keeps the price of carbon high, what makes innovation attractive for the covered sectors. But it only works though if this fixed supply-side can react to the demand-side. A set-aside of allowances is now needed to achieve real changes in the energy mix. A reserve auction price (bottom price) in the future would also give companies a right signal.
All sectors will need to contribute. In the absence of a multilateral agreement on a legal framework for reducing emissions from the aviation sector thus far, the EU has brought the aviation sector into the emissions trading system. This is needed to give airlines a clear incentive to become more efficient and pollute less. Inaction is estimated to contribute 88 per cent extra emissions between 2005 and 2020 and as much as 700 per cent by 2050.
From Holocene to Anthropocene – considering human effect on the planet. Degraded agricultural lands, industrial wastelands, and recreational landscapes become characteristic of Earth’s terrestrial surface. Where wilderness remains, it’s often only because exploitation is still unprofitable. The name change would stress the enormity of humanity’s responsibility as stewards of the Earth. Our intellect and creativity offer opportunities for shaping the future. Challenges: fight over-consumption, invest in science and technology and ensure our “green security system”.
Annual food waste worldwide: 1.3 billon tons. About one-third of all the food is wasted in industrialised countries like the UK and the USA. The problem is basically a lack of respect for food – at consumer level – partly because food has become relatively cheap (and it ‘only’ costs one billion a year to dispose). In several developing countries, where the same amount of food is wasted, the problem lies at the level of harvesting and distribution. Limiting waste can become a first priority in tackling hunger.
Public awareness: on average one out of ten knows what CCS is (survey result in 12 Member States of the EU). In the Netherlands over half of the people knew what CCS is, but no other country is anywhere near as well informed. A short simple explanation leads nearly forty per cent to think it’s an effective method against climate change. But there are of course also concerns about the technology. Properly targeted information could influence the public acceptance.
The clean energy market will not rise following normal economic rules of innovation – where the size of the existing market and expected price motivates innovation. Carbon is too cheap (so clean energy is not yet an attractive alternative) and the existing market for clean energy is too small. Governments must place a high price on carbon to redirect market forces to low carbon technologies – like for instance CCS.
Australia’s need for electricity could be met up entirely by renewable energy. A team at the University of New South Wales-Kensington explains which investments it would take. The reason for not conducting so – unfortunately – is of course: money. The exact amount although is contested. Investments, whichever ones to be taken, need subsidies to fund them. We need to get used to the idea that electricity is going to have to be dearer.
Animal agriculture is responsible for more than 30 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Bachelard discusses the opinions on whether to eat red meat or not (and the consequences) from a vegan’s point of view, a general manager at a meat company’s point of view and a politician’s point of view.